This was the title of the email message we sent out to the choir last night. Yes, the choir vacation is over, and we will resume this Sunday at 8:15 am for a rehearsal before the 9:15 am service. “Six weeks off is just about right,” Carl says about summer vacations. Some churches give their choristers the entire summer off, and others never take a break. Carl found, though, that six weeks off is just the perfect time to schedule family vacations, enjoy rest and renewal before starting up again.
This Sunday the choir will be singing anthems by Felix Mendelssohn 1809-1847 (from Elijah, “O come, every one that thirsteth”) and “I sat down under his shadow” by Edward C. Bairstow (1874-1946). They will also sing a Peter Hallock psalm from the Ionian Psalter and a Carl Crosier Alleluia. Just a “usual” Sunday — all this music with just a 45-minute rehearsal before the service. This week we’ll also start looking at music for Carl’s last Sunday, August 21st.
I met with Joey Fala yesterday to see all his pictures of Pipe Organ Encounter-Technical (a weeklong intensive study of pipe organbuilding) from which he just returned, and the question he asked me was, “How does the choir learn all this music so quickly?” I had told him that when we perform Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass on August 21st, the choir will only have two rehearsals plus one dress rehearsal with orchestra. In addition to the Lord Nelson, the choir will also learn concerted settings of the hymns with descants and a new communion motet.
I think there are several key ingredients at play here. First, the choir trusts that Carl will have done his homework in studying the score, and knowing how all the parts fit together. Secondly, he continually challenges choristers to improve their sightreading by introducing new music. Another factor is efficient rehearsals —there is no wasted time. He (and Allen Bauchle) make a rehearsal schedule, planned to the minute and they are uncannily accurate in calculating how much time it will take to learn the music. He also refers people to commercial recordings where available so they can learn the parts on their own.
With all the plans for Carl’s retirement on August 21st in the works, a lot of people have asked me if I’m retiring too. But the facts are that I’m YEARS younger than Carl and I’m not quite ready to give up playing and teaching just yet. So I will continue as LCH’s organist even though I told him, “You’re breaking up our act!” After all, my mother didn’t retire until age 83, and although I don’t know if I’ll still be able to play when I’m that old, I’m going to continue as long as I’m physically able.
By the way, even though Carl will be retiring as Cantor, he has already planned next season’s Abendmusiken concerts and will serve as artistic director. As of September 1st, he will be working full time at his “other” job as chief financial officer of St. Andrew’s Priory School, so he won’t be able to spend his afternoons “watching soap operas and eating chocolate bonbons.” Not just yet.